The Travel Paradox
I am relieved to be home from a three week trip to the States. Ironically, I almost said, ” . . . three week trip home.” I did not go home, I am home, Portugal is home. We spend so much time making our homes comfortable and beautiful and then we travel someplace else.
In many ways returning to the United States during a pandemic was an insane proposition. My flight was cancelled, rebooked, cancelled, changed, changed again, and changed one final time. What should have been a seven hour direct flight turned into two stressful flights; the first in the wrong direction with a very tight connection — more like 17 hours. I had to be tested for COVID-19 prior to travelling, at my expense. It should be noted that the PCR test in the States was offered at no cost. COVID testing has become a big business with many charging as much $250; criminal.
Looking back, the four airports I travelled through were extremely busy — a plug for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which was by far the most efficient and user friendly.
I cannot help but wonder if I would have made this trip knowing what I know now. True, there are family and friends I wanted to see; I needed to see. It had been a long time and I lived in the U.S. for the first 59 years of my life. This trip took its toll on me mentally and physically like no other before it. I’m going to stop writing for afew days. My negative feelings about what I saw and experienced in the U.S. are skewed and time will help.
[An apology to friends and family: I imagine you grew tired of comparisons between Portugal and the U.S. For example, “I can get a latte and a pastry for two euros in Faro.” That must have sounded more like: wah, wah, wah and wah. My bad. Is it true people are no longer saying, “My bad.?”]
Some time has passed and I have gained some perspective.
One of positive things about travel was the renewed appreciation of my home. Whilst away, I thought a lot about Faro, Paco (my dog), and my apartment. After only a few days, I lamented about the rest I get in my own bed and the joy I get from hanging with Paco.
Of course I know that I think and say all of these things and by next week this time I will be thinking about my next trip and longing to be away again.
I didn’t take very many photos; living in the moment and creating living memories. No doubt, I am one lucky fella. Don’t be upset if you do not see yourself here, I chose these pics quickly — I blame jet lag.
Some of the highlights and pitfalls of my time in the States (not all fact, but a whole lot of opinion):
- The non-U.S. passport line at JFK was a lot shorter; there is a first time for everything.
- I oddly had little to no jet lag going west.
- The old Penn Station was like entering hell without warning. I’m still suffering from PTSD — Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury (Google).
- New York City is not the same with Broadway gone dark and that’s just a fact.
- People get angry with you when you’re nearby, but have no time to see them. Please don’t be mad at me.
- The food in New York City is better than anywhere I have ever been (must be the competition).
- Brooklyn Bridge Park is absolutely incredible and should not be missed — what a gift to the people of Brooklyn and the city of New York.
- There is no bed like your own bed.
- May is the best month of the year for good weather in the northeast (mostly not hot and humid).
- I understand why they say you can never go home again.
- No one gets you the way your siblings do.
- Charlotte, North Carolina has exploded (I went to university there).
- BBQ should only be eaten in the south.
- Downtown Boston is not easy to navigate since the Big Dig. I almost missed my bus back to New York (plug for Flexi Bus; easy and inexpensive way to travel).
- I’ve been writing this blog for three years and much to my chagrin, friends actually said this, ” . . . so what is your blog about?”
- Not everyone is happy that I was able to get the J&J vaccine in Brooklyn. Doesn’t matter, I’m glad I did.
- I spent way too much time throughout my travels, thinking about quarantine weight.
- I refuse to travel back to the United States during this pandemic; I know we’re all hoping things will improve soon.
- I thought turning your data off on your cell stopped you from roaming. A cell phone bill for hundreds of euros let me know that I was wrong. I’m certain cell carriers and cell phone manufacturers are in cahoots regarding this issue. My iphone has to be on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges. I can assure you that unless I have dementia (do I?), that will never happen again.
- You know I have a lot more to say, note my restraint.
A Minha Casa
Now that I have been home for almost a week, I can sit back and reflect on the significance of this last visit to my place of birth. People I know and love have lots going on; they’re frenetic, preoccupied and manic. That doesn’t mean they love me or think of me any less. What it does mean, is that I need to be patient and understanding. All I ask in return, is the same consideration
I painted stenciled blue birds on my solarium floor on my first full day home. No doubt I was seeking peace and tranquility. Hoping to squash that PTSD.
I cancelled my trip to Lyon scheduled for next week. Too much COVID-19 testing and complicated travel. Businesses blaming everything that goes wrong on this virus is getting old.
I have tickets to Bristol, UK in July — who knows if that will happen. It’s only been postponed four times. Stockholm in August, Toulouse in September, London and a European cruise in October, and a long awaited trip to five Asian countries in January 2022. Cuba moved to February and the planning continues. I keep telling myself it’s okay to plan, even though it’s a bit insane. Humans are strange after all.